Product Type: Halifax Building Society Insurance in Insurance
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Halifax Building Society Insurance in general
Member Name: helencb
Halifax Building Society Insurance in general
Date: 28/02/03, updated on 28/02/03 (2526 review reads)
Advantages: Will cover you in the case of redundancy
Disadvantages: Will make you ill in the process
We moved to our previous home over five years ago now, and at the time we nearly doubled our borrowings, so it was quite a big decision. We decided that we would take out Mortgage Repayments Insurance to protect us against redundancy primarily, although the cover does also pay out in the case of sickness.
We took our mortgage out through the Halifax, and they provided us with a quotation for their Redundancy cover. Initially, our cover was about £37, and would pay out £750 in the event of redundancy or sickness. However there was a hike in the premiums a couple of years later and we now pay £45.32 a month for the same level of cover, equating to £6 per £100 of cover.
Care is needed when you take out cover of this type, and as my ex employer has just made 127 of us redundant, many people are discovering they haven?t bought what they thought they had. I know colleagues who have found they are only insured for £100, and another who is only covered for an amount equivalent to the mortgage and not the additional home expenses i.e. endowments or life cover. Your premium is quoted as a rate per £100 of cover required. With the Halifax you can insure yourself against your mortgage payment, plus an additional 25% to cover endowments etc. Our policy is only in my name, and if you put the cover in joint names, and one of you is unable to work, or is made redundant, you will only get half the insured amount, unless you pay double the premium of course, quite an expensive option.
Anyway time passed idly by, and on a number of occasions I thought about cancelling my cover, due to the costs involved but thankfully I did not, because I was made redundant in 2001 and again, after finding a new job, I was made redundant 14 weeks later as the company has gone into administration. So this policy has been my lifeline. You still need to pay the premium even when you are making a claim, and so my £750 was actually only £705
, net. However, being made redundant meant I was able to reduce my mortgage using some of my pay off, and therefore I was still able to cover the payments and endowments ? just.
The policy is underwritten by Halifax Insurance Ireland Ltd, part of the Halifax group of companies and registered in Republic of Ireland No 323923.
Making a Claim for Redundancy
To make a claim, you first have to request a claim form from the company. In 2001, I was able to pick this up from my local branch, along with a copy of the cover, but this year the branch told me I would have to phone and ask for a claim form.
Once you get the form, you have to fill in all the salient information and the form needs to be signed by both the Job Centre and your previous employer. You are not insured for the first 30 days you are out of work, nor can you claim if you are not actively seeking work. If you received any Pay in Lieu of notice, you will not be paid for that time either.
Once you have filled in the initial claim form and it has been approved, you will need to provide an AB1 certificate from the Job Centre, each month, together with a declaration that you have not worked. Once this is received it is processed by the Contact Centre in Ireland and you should receive your money in the bank four days later. You do receive a pre-paid envelope to return the form, and I always faxed mine to speed up the process also.
They also have a free Job advice helpline, and this is pretty good overall. They contact you to offer assistance, and if you want to ring them they will call you right back, saving you the cost of the calls. They also send you out a useful information pack on Job Hunting in general and can do web searches, managing to uncover some jobs which I had not seen.
From the start of my redundancy in 2001, up to late l
ast year when I no longer had to deal with them, this company have been an absolute nightmare to deal with. Everything and I mean everything goes awry in the process, leaving you frantic about whether things are going to be done on time. I have lost count of the number of times I have had to telephone the call centre, again and again and again over the same issues. I will give you some examples.
Claim in 2001 ? I duly got it all filled in, then photocopied it and posted it off. I waited a week, and then telephoned. Not received. Please call back in another week. I did this and told it was still not received. I said I found this unlikely as I had used their own envelope. I was advised it must be lost and I would have to fill out another claim form. Now bearing in mind I had to visit my employer and the JC to get another form filled in, you can imagine I wasn?t happy with this, as I imagined my form was simply sitting in some person?s backlog somewhere. I asked for a supervisor. On this occasion I got some joy. She asked me to fax over the copy I had made (thankfully) and she would process the claim and telephone me back. She didn?t phone back (first of many failed call backs), however when I contacted them the next day, everything was ok.
Each month for the remainder of my claim, I had to complete a declaration and send an AB1 certificate in their prepaid envelope. On the following month I did this, and still heard nothing, despite the mortgage being due. I called and called and when I got someone they told me it would take at least ten days. This seemed ridiculous; I could not send a form before the 20th of the month, so how were they ever going to pay me in time to meet my mortgage payment on the 1st. Spoke to supervisor again. They agreed to do a same day transfer. I was also told if I had faxed it in, it would have been quicker. Great, I would do that in future as I have a fax at home, but it doesn?t seem very fair when many people do not have
this facility. Following month, no payment, despite being assured it would be there, and as a result my mortgage payment bounced for the first time in 16 years of having a mortgage, something I was not happy about at all. Manager this time, and she sorted everything out, and paid us the following month?s payment early!
This continued for the whole time I was insured with them, and thankfully when I returned to work, I thought I could change my insurance to someone independent such as M & S; however I would have to work 13 weeks before I was able to do that.
Anyway, I had a little disagreement with the Halifax on another matter, and this caused me to write to their complaints department. In my letter, which was v. professional, I also stated my disappointment with Halifax Insurance Ireland both regard to processes which were ineffective, and staff, who didn?t seem to care, blaming the mail rather than being focused on resolving the problems. I got a response from that division, about 5 weeks later, with the usual ?We are sorry, valued customer, etc and they hoped things would be ok in future?. They also asked me to complete one last declaration to close off my claim, (obviously that must have gone astray too, although I didn?t realise, because I was no longer due any payment!) Well would you believe it, the day after I received the letter, I got made redundant again, just 14 weeks after going back to work.
I have a policy booklet, and it clearly states that when someone has worked for less than 12 weeks after a claim, the two claims will be linked. What this means in essence is that you don?t have to wait the thirty day period, but as you are only insured for a maximum of 12 months, then you will only be covered for the remainder. However as I had been back to work for longer than that, then I should be treated as a brand new claim, albeit with the 30 day exclusion.
You got it? Well why doesn?t the Hal
ifax then? On my first call, they told me I would be covered right away due to my temporary work. I stated my job had not been temporary, but was permanent, and I had completed more than 12 weeks, therefore this should be a new claim. Anyway the girl insisted I need a continuation claim form and advised she would send me one out.
No form arrived and a week later I called once again, went through the same scenario, confirmed again that my job had been permanent, and the girl agreed to send out a claim form, which duly arrived five days later.
I completed said form, which took ten days, as my employer had to send it to their administrators; then I photocopied, faxed and posted it back to HII.
After waiting an age, I eventually called up, and I was advised that the girl could not access my record, as someone was in it, and must be working on it. Great, I naively thought, that is a positive sign. Anyway, I let another week go buy, and I hadn?t heard so I called again. Unfortunately I was given the ?access? story again, and I figured there must be a technical fault with their system. Unbelievably they advised that they could give no indication of when the Technical Department would be able to release my record; it was out of their hands (this was a supervisor speaking). She did ask me to fax the claim form again, and gave me firstly an incorrect number and then a number which was not attached to a fax, although I did not realise this, until I had left the fax on auto-redial for almost twelve hours. I had taken the precaution of sending the form to the Main Fax number, and followed this up with a phone call and was advised, it would then be in the system fax, and could take a few days. I asked the girl to advise the supervisor to see if she could retrieve it and call me back, but she did neither.
Needless to say, the next business day, we tried again, and we were advised that everything was ok with our claim (not withstanding that the
y had processed it incorrectly, but I thought by this stage I would take that up in writing separately). All I had to do was to get an AB1 certificate and send it off, and they would send me a declaration in the post for me to sign. Great. Only nothing arrived in the post for days, and then I got a letter saying I had been declined as I had not been back to work for six months!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! BUT THE POLICY STATES THREE MONTHS NOT SIX.
Shaking with fear at the thought of not having any income, I got onto the department again and after a long time they apologised and read me out another letter which was on its way out to me. I eventually received this on the 13 June, and I sent off the response by fax and Post again. By 26 June, I still had not heard anything, and this being the third mortgage payment due since I was made redundant I got my hubby to give them a call. Now he called them after 5pm, and they told him the money would be in account that day, yet two days later there is still no sign!
I followed up with another letter to the HO, as they have processed my claim clearly outside the terms of my policy, and if there has been a policy change, then I have not been notified. However, this got me absolutely nowhere, as they just copied the "policy" I have bought, and the terms and conditions of it are not what I had thought I had bought.
On top of that, they have been impossible to deal with, and this is not good news, when you have expensive bills to meet and no income coming in. They are not cheap for the cover, indeed Marks and Spencer?s offer cover for £4 per £100 which is 33% cheaper than the Halifax. Unfortunately for me, for the last year, my hands have been tied, as I cannot take out new cover (or even change my mortgage), while a claim has been ongoing, or during my first three months of employment. However as soon as I get a job, I will be reviewing both.
I know this has been a long saga, but that
is exactly what it feels like to me. Buyer Beware, Stay away from this cover, or change it now while you have the chance! Dealing with this company has been extremely stressful for over a year now, and I think on the whole I have coped with redundancy pretty well; for a more anxious person, this could finish them off, the stress levels are so high. Unfortunately for me, my cover ran out after a few months, but I got a job soon after, and I also moved to a smaller place again, reducing the mortgage. We took out a new policy with the AA, via money supermarket.com, on my husbands income only this time, and I sincerely hope we never have to use it!
NB, I havent had a sickness claim, although apart from the actual documentation that you need to produce will be different, the processes and contact centre will be the same.
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